Mei-Ling Hopgood is a top journalist who now teaches at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. For her readers, that means she's a lifelong storyteller, which you'll discover immediately when you dip into this wonderful book of real-life stories that circle the globe.
She is famous in her own right. Born in Taiwan and adopted by an American family at an early age, the bittersweet story of her reunion with her Taiwanese family as an adult appears in her earlier book, Lucky Girl. For most of her early life, Mei-Ling was a typical American: She grew up as a smart, enthusiastic Midwest school kid and even got a spot on her high school pom pom squad. When she became a journalist, her award-winning work appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Before moving with her husband and children to the Chicago area recently, they lived for years in Buenos Aires. Given her global wealth of family experiences, Mei-Ling was fascinated by the vast differences in parenting choices as she circled the planet.
She was completing her new book, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, while two other controversial best sellers in this niche were making headlines and burning up websites: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. Given Mei-Ling's background as a journalist, always seeking accuracy and balance, it's not surprising that Mei-Ling's book on global parenting now is widely compared by reviewers to Tiger and Bebe as -- the kinder, gentler book in this trio. Or, as Mei-Ling herself puts it in the conclusion of her book:
"I've reached a pretty optimistic conclusion after observing the adaptability and resilience of families in many circumstances and environments. Despite vast differences in beliefs, religion and culture, moms, dads and caregivers in most societies share a common desire: to raise children who can thrive in the reality in which they live. While no culture can claim to be the best at any one given aspect of parenting, each has its own gems of wisdom to add to the discussion."
If you've read Tiger and Bebe, then you know that viewpoint marks Mei-Ling's book as a distinctively different voice. As a parent and a long-time journalist myself, I was struck by how much fun I had flipping the pages of her new book. Among her journalistic talents, Mei-Ling has an eye for overall pacing, which means delivering those special gems that she promises at regular intervals to keep readers flipping page after page. Among those gems are little sections between chapters that might be described as fun facts. If you're drawn to this book, it's because you want to discover a whole Noah's ark of fascinating stories about kids and their parents from all corners of the world. Mei-Ling understands that desire and delivers regular doses of gee-whiz, real-life stories.